Friday, August 28, 2009

Your all-new and greatly expanded quiz schedule!

Sunday, August 30, 9:00pm
Lyon's Den
848 S. 2nd St.

(near 2nd & Christian Sts.)

Subject Round: FOOTBALL

Monday, August 31, 9:00pm
Ray's Happy Birthday Bar
1200 E. Passyunk Ave.

(near 9th & Federal Sts.)

Subject Round: SIT-COMS
Let's try this, seeing as my Mondays were free.

Tuesday, September 1, 9:00pm

El Camino Real
1040 N. 2nd St.

(2nd St. below Girard Ave.)
Subject Round: PSYCHOLOGY

Wednesday, September 2, 7:00pm

12 Steps Down

9th & Christian Sts.

Subject Round: DAYS OF THE WEEK
Note half-hour earlier start.

Wednesday, September 2, 9:15pm
The Institute
- visit the website
12th & Green Sts.

Subject Round: FAMOUS FIRSTS

All-new quiz north of Market St. There will be food and drink specials TBA.

Thursday, September 10, at or sometime after 8:30pm
The Draught Horse

Broad St. & Cecil B. Moore Ave.
(Temple University campus)

We have to determine the exact regular start time for this quiz for the Fall term. Please give me or the bar staff input if you're planning to be a regular.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ted's dead, baby... Ted's dead

Ted Kennedy's been circling the drain for months, but I was still surprised at the level of fawning coverage which is accompanying the fourth-most-favored Kennedy brother to the Great Gated Community in the Sky. So a guy with a head the size of a Buick gets a brain tumor - quel appropos.

Update: Since banging this out, I saw these articles (one, two) which lay out plainly that Kennedy was a bigger enemy of labor than I had previously thought.

The proximal impetus for this rant was the nauseating suggestion made repeatedly by national media in mid-verbal fellatio that health care was the "cause of [Ted's] life." Let's make one thing sparkling clear - the cause of Ted's life was emptying the next Scotch bottle, preferably with a working class girl from the office pool who won't go blabbing perched upon what passed for his Jabba "lap."

Something is severely wrong with a country that sends a bloated, soused clown like this to the Senate for 47 years, interrupted only by the Grim Reaper. How do you get re-elected to office six times after drowning a woman and not reporting it for several hours?!

I keep reading about how much "liberals" loved this guy. I'm a liberal and the vast majority of my friends are liberals and I have never heard a single one of them make any statement whatever about him, even in passing. Certainly nothing positive. I think here we mean the mass media Beltway "liberal," which is to say a registered Democrat millionaire who thinks that condoms should be legal and isn't entirely opposed to rock'n'roll. Anything left of that apparently doesn't exist.

I hope this is a nail in the coffin of the whole Kennedy klan bullshit, in which Catholics in general and Irish Catholics especially traded the rights and advantages of working people in every other industrialized country for pseudo-representation by and vicarious worship of a billionaire family of playboy fuck-ups. Who needs a minimally functional political party that sees to it that your kids are well educated and grandma can get the operation when you can hang framed pitchures of the Kennedy boys next to that other fraud with a hand in your pocket, the Pope, and vicariously thrill to the thought that this time it's a papist knockin' back a $100 booze bottle on a speedboat while rapin' the maid and gettin' away with it? "Take that, Dan Quayle!"

The Kennedys did for Irish-American image what Flavor Flav does for Black History Month. One would hope that the most famous Irish family in the US wouldn't be a bunch of 1840s cartoon bogdwelling alcoholic misogynist apemen who seem to prove in incident after incident that the big houses with the nice dinner forks should be reserved for WASPs. But that's what we got.

After some questionable financial gains by their two elder generations, the Kennedy brothers were installed in government positions that could have been occupied by honest citizens through shady, corrupt backroom deals because they could apparently keep the corporate profits flowing while looking the part of youthful reformers (this should sound familiar to 2008 voters...) John Kennedy was elected to office (well, probably not elected; read up on Illinois 1960) based in the lie that the US had fewer planet-killing missiles than the Soviets. He spent the next three years chucking Eisenhower's warnings about the military-industrial complex in the toilet, drastically increasing the weapons budget at the expense of everything else, pushing the planet to the brink of nuclear war, ramping up the Vietnam war, invading Cuba to reinstall our business-friendly dictator, and kicking the civil rights movement to the curb.

When you look at what LBJ did on most of those issues (Vietnam aside), the "tragedy" becomes that Lee Harvey Oswald dragged his feet getting to the Texas Schoolbook Depository.

Teddy got Johnny's seat because he needed a job and we live in a plutocracy. Likewise talk was that glassy-eyed debutante Caroline Kennedy was somehow owed a position in government by dint of her surname, which is 180 degrees in opposition to the ideals of the American revolution.

Quoting The Buffalo Beast, which last year named her one of the 50 Most Loathsome People in America:

"Charges: A limp, lifeless, murmuring slouch whose dearth of vivacity makes
John Kerry look like Richard Simmons, Kennedy has the apparent focus and charm
of a shock therapy victim on Haldol. If the Kennedy name (and fundraising pull)
can carry this passive princess into the Senate, it could get a bottle of fish
sauce elected. At least fish sauce doesn’t say “y’know” every three seconds.

Exhibit A: “I’ve spent a lifetime growing up around public policy
issues.” Her dad died when she was 5.

Sentence: Badly injured in a car crash, Kennedy is rushed to the
hospital, where she is attended to by a guy whose dad was an excellent

We are instructed to weep for our billionaires. Poor Teddy, poor Lady Di. Life was so hard on them. You and I, on the other hand, are expected to stoically receive the thousand cuts and indignities of workaday life without so much as a whimper.

Teddy was in the Senate since 1962 and in that time pretty much every social and economic indicator for America's poor and middle classes got worse. This fat fucking fraud never, not in 47 years, attempted any Mr. Smith Goes to Washington neck-sticking-out for the poor or even middle class, provided you can claim that the remote chance of losing a job and salary he never needed in the next election cycle of a six-year term would be "sticking your neck out" in any meaningful sense of the term.

My "favorite" fraud of his, and of the Democrats broadly, would be that in non-election years only, stretching back to when minimum wage was less than $4/hour, Teddy would trot out a stillborn bill to raise it a bit, and then claim that when his other fat millionaire pigs in the Senate killed it that that was the best he could do. Then he'd take his four-month government job vacation on his 6,000 foot yacht and all would be forgotten until the next charade 23 months later. Meanwhile people working 40+ hours/week got evicted, went bankrupt from doctor bills and ate ramen far too many times to be healthy.

More stunning: in the 17 years leading up to his 2004 race for president, fellow demi-billionaire Massachusetts senator John Kerry voted against the Kennedy minimum wage bill 8 of 9 times, the ninth being the one right before the election. In Europe these people would be burned in effigy, if not in fact. Let them eat ramen.

Just a reminder: Ted Kennedy drowned a woman in a DUI and lied about it, then years later an apparently pants-optional Teddy covered for his degenerate Kennedy klansman when he raped a woman. This is the guy I'm supposed to feel sorry for, because I'm a liberal!

Come to think of it, leaving you in the car to drown while he swims to safety is about the best metaphor for the Kennedys' economics record possible.

I'm also a bit tired of hearing about the "Kennedy wit" or the "Kennedy charm." For the life of me I can't recall any of these people saying or doing anything remotely amusing. Maybe they toss you a few bons mots while buggering you..?

The final word is from my favorite Kennedy of any variety, Jello. Because there's always room for Jello.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

This week's kwiz schedule

Sunday, August 23, 9pm
Lyon's Den
848 S 2nd St.

(near 2nd & Christian Sts.)

Subject Round: RELIGION

Tuesday, August 25, 9pm

El Camino Real
1040 N. 2nd St.

(2nd St. below Girard Ave.)

Wednesday, August 26, 7:30pm

12 Steps Down

9th & Christian Sts.


Wednesday, August 26, ~10 pm

Ray's Happy Birthday Bar
1200 E. Passyunk Ave.

(near 9th & Federal Sts.)

Subject Round: EARLY MOVIES

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Best thing you can do in Philadelphia for $1 right now: Dialogues with Darwin

For a suggested donation of only $1 you can check out a very cool Darwin exhibit at Philosophical Hall drawn largely from the collections of the American Philosophical Society's library.

The exhibit provides some background info on how Darwin came to piece together an understanding of evolution (a word which doesn't actually appear in Origin of Species), and includes a fantastic display of letters in his hand and some fantastic 100-150 year old naturalist books. There's also an art display in the
steampunk style with manufactured parallel 'history' of Darwin's age, which is one of the few types of art displays in conjunction with something historic that I can really enjoy.

This is so refreshing following the non-scientific movie tie-ins the larger science museums in this city have been pushing for the cash, and in the wake of America's regressive creationist push toward repealing the 19th century.

It's the 150th anniversary of a brilliant man's brilliant work which pulled humanity out of a certain ignorance; time to celebrate!

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Just in case you thought I was exaggerating on the fascist thing...

Following up on my post from the other day about exactly what kind of extreme right wing lunatics we have mobilized in this country right now, check this out:

In case you're not in a position to view the video, at a Las Vegas health care Town Hall an Israeli-American in favor of national health care attempts to explain that Israel is one of the countries where the government takes care of its people. So a woman nearby shouts "Heil Hitler!" at him.

Just as review, the United States helped defeat the Nazis in World War II. No, really, here's a citation for you.

At least, you might say, that these people aren't showing up armed with military assault rifles when the president shows up somewhere to talk health care. Well, as it turns out, these people are showing up armed with military assault rifles when the president shows up somewhere to talk health care.

At least, you might say, these people aren't attacking union members at health care rallies and then claiming the opposite happened, and at least they aren't posing for propaganda photos in a wheelchair and claiming that they've been so crippled they can't speak. Right? I mean that would be bat shit crazy, right..?

And it's true.

Note that two of these most high-profile people in the latter two incidents are African-American, which suggests to me some national, intentional coordination to provide media cover for what is at its root a deeply racist movement.
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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Quiz returns to the Draught Horse on September 10 with a new sponsor - Victory Brewing Company

The largest quiz I currently do with the mostest prizes returns after its summer hiatus to The Draught Horse at Temple University the night of Thursday, September 10. We'll shoot for 8:30pm for the first game and the class schedule of participants will dictate what precise starting time we ultimately settle on for this term.

Your new sponsor is Victory Brewing Company, with all of the promotional gear and drink specials that entails. Enjoy!

Remember, kids, that's:

1431 Cecil B. Moore Ave.
(near Broad St. & Cecil B. Moore Ave.)
Philadelphia, PA
Thursday nights starting September 10
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Face to face with America's right wing health care paranoiacs

Soooo... there my fiancee and I are, having a Saturday morning breakfast at a local diner, and no sooner do I shake some Tabasco on my omelette then I overhear one of those conversations that must be challenged. I prefer not to have unchallenged fascism with my breakfast.

A 40-ish couple is standing about 8 feet from us at the counter, talking to the senior citizen next to us in worried theater tones about health care. Actually it's almost all her talking, and really what she's trying to do is scare the living crap out of the old man, and by extension anyone within earshot, with agit-prop of the lowest order.

After mentioning a few times that she "works in health insurance," so, like, she would kno
w this sort of thing, and, I suppose in her feeble mind, this is a trustworthy profession, she starts telling the old guy - and I swear this is damn near verbatim - that "there are a lot of countries in Europe where they ask if you want to die when you turn 80."

Immediately I know who I'm dealing with, the gibbering fucknuts
who comprise the only barrier between our beloved Christian nation and Chairman Abdul Hussein Obama's evil masterplan of soshoolized medhisunn. But with the help of Sean Hannity and Jesus - in that order - they will valiantly defeat any attempt for working people to see a proctologist while the tumor can be removed in time.

The old man responds "They kill you at 80?"

Heck, why not notch it up a bit? In for a dime, in for a dollar.

Health insurance bitch responds, "Yes, they kill you at 80. They ask you how you want to die."

At this point hubby helpfully adds, "They do some math [this concept alone must blow their minds like a Pink Floyd laser show at the planetarium], and figure it's cheaper to kill you than help you."

Health insurance twat adds, "Yeah, they just kill you. They ask you how you want to die. I'm not sure which countries, I forget... yeah... a lot of countries in Europe, I forget which ones, they kill you at 80." Right wingers generally forget the specifics of their facts, which is in almost all cases because they aren't facts and therefore have no details.

This is all I can stands, and I can't stands no more. My tea hasn't even kicked in yet, this is way too early in the day to start fighting Hitler's learning disabled great-niece.

In a few seconds I'm contemplating throwing some rational stats at her about how the US is the industrialized world's health care shit puddle, or if I should just be Angry Guy and tell her to shut her brownshirt face while people are trying to eat. I contemplate briefly asking her to name one of the countries she suspects might have a Soylent Green program in place, or if she's ever been to Europe, or if she knows anyone who's ever been to Europe, or in fact if she is in any way familiar with Europe outside of their international hit "The Final Countdown."

I decide that at this hour, to maximize the ridicule of her idea for anyone within earshot, the way to go is hyperbole and sarcasm.

I look over, smile, make eye contact and announce "Fifty! I heard about this too, in Europe they kill you when you reach 50. It's cheaper."

I'm not yet sure where I'm going with this, and it's going to depend on her reaction, which I assume will be that I must be lowballing the death age, and then the absurdist haggling may begin, hopefully leading to some unscrambling of her pea brain's cognitive dissonance.

She smiles back and steps a few steps toward me, immediately recognizing an ally. "Yeah, I thought I heard that, I wasn't sure if the number was 80 or 50." Y'know, in nice even increments of 30 years... very easy to confuse.

I am dumbfounded. Now, still chewing eggs, staring three feet into the dead-behind-the-eyes fish-stare of the terminally ignorant, I repeat, smiling, "Yep, in Europe they KILL you at age FIFTY, right?"

"Yes, that's it, they save money by killing you at fifty. And they're gonna start-"

Me, "Uh, you aren't in any way familiar with the concept of irony..?"

Her, "Yea-, uhhh..."

"You actually believed me when I said they kill people in Europe at 50? You think I'm serious?"

I don't hear exactly what she says next, because at this point I can't pretend not to be pissed off any longer. My fiancee says something about how she would naturally be spreading lies as a health insurance provider, hubby is gibbering some Rush Limbaugh crap, and I pretty much yell "You are the dumbest person I have ever met!" which draws even more attention to our area.

In fairness, she is likely not the dumbest person I have ever met, because babies don't know shit yet. Babies aside, she's down there.

Hubby starts clutching her and saying something about how "it's not very nice" to say that and that I'm "not a very nice person." It was like being verbally assaulted by Ned Flanders. I also love how scaring an old man shitless about the government helping him see a doctor is presumably the nice thing to do, and stopping that makes me a villain. But these are right wingers, and therefore bullies when allowed to rant/wusses when confronted, and they start walking away and she says "[I] better do [my] research", which just makes me laugh. This woman couldn't research the location of the nearest library at the reference desk of her nearest library.

I assume by "do some research" she means suck up the mad ravings of Glenn Beck without question.

The pair walk up to the diner's manager before stompng out and tell on me. He comes up and is smiling, says that some people can't take a joke, that she asked that I be removed, and when I fill him in on the Europe thing - the family who runs the diner are Greek - he laughs it off. I agree not to scare away any more customers. When paying the bill he jokingly asks the kid at the counter to watch out for me because I'm a troublemaker. At least I ruined their meal plans.

Here's a troubling thought: this woman is working in health insurance, and might be deciding whether or not you get a needed operation. Now, would you feel better with the government paying for your health care regardless of what you need, or would you rather roll the dice with the intellectual bastard children of Ayn Rand and Elmer Fudd?

Incidentally, let's have a little fun with the stats.

Life Expectantcy at Birth, from the the World Factbook of those commie bastards at the CIA:

country( years) Date of Information

2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

5San Marino
2009 est.

6Hong Kong
2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

16Cayman Islands
2009 est.

2009 est.

18New Zealand
2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

28Faroe Islands
2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

34Saint Pierre and Miquelon
2009 est.

35Virgin Islands
2009 est.

36United Kingdom
2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

39Isle of Man
2009 est.

40Korea, South
2009 est.

41European Union
2009 est.

42Puerto Rico
2009 est.

43Bosnia and Herzegovina
2009 est.

44Saint Helena
2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

2009 est.

49Wallis and Futuna
2009 est.

50United States
2009 est.

The good news is that you won't necessarily be reaching 80 to be killed by the government. Hooray! Three guesses which two of those places hasn't made health care a right (which, incidentally, Obama's plan doesn't do either, which is what someone would expect from a guy who took $20 million from the health industry in a presidential campaign.)

Thus I encountered one of the lunatic Town Hall shouting people described in this excellent piece by David Michael Green who find Obama not far enought to the right, and are so whacked out on 30 years of steady neo-fascist propaganda that they call his expensive bid to save capitalist health insurance from itself
soshoolized medhisunn.

Update: it appears that one of these wingnuts is now claiming to have been beaten up by a bunch of union members at a St. Louis health care Town Hall event, so severely that he needs a wheelchair and can't talk (?!). Interestingly video taken from mid-range suggests that he pushed one of the union members to the ground, and would have beaten him if not scared away by other union folks. After the incident the union member had a dislocated shoulder, and the right winger was walking around and yelling. These people are not only engaging in brownshirt tactics, they are accusing the people they attack of doing the same. Very scary... very 1933, very Reichstag fire.
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This week's quiz schedule

Sunday, August 16, 9pm
Lyon's Den
848 S 2nd St.
(near 2nd & Christian Sts.)
Subject Round: COFFEE & TEA

Tuesday, August 18, 9pm
El Camino Real
1040 N. 2nd St.
(2nd St. below Girard Ave.)
Subject Round: RELIGION

Wednesday, August 18, 7:30pm
12 Steps Down
9th & Christian Sts.

Wednesday, August 19, ~10 pm
Ray's Happy Birthday Bar
1200 E. Passyunk Ave.
(near 9th & Federal Sts.)
Subject Round: BASEBALL... AGAIN
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Friday, August 14, 2009

The Philadelphia Dog Drowners are dead to me

Animal torturer in? I'm out.

I've been behind this team for more than 30 years. No more. I'm out. Done. I hope they go 0-16. I will be pulling for Tony Romo twice this season. I will not watch a game, listen to a game or consume any Eagles merch. Fuck 'em. This team could do one thing that would ruin football for me, and they did. Using a stadium that they extrorted from the city and state. After suing the bankrupt city that is their home for $8 million that Lurie would still have a billion dollars without.

Fry, Eagles, fry... on the road to perdition.

Lurie is a scumbag for even holding off on this until after the last SRO tickets were sold. Thousands of fans now hold tickets for games that make them sick to attend.

Andy Reid is a fat loser fraud. All of these years talking about having "character" players, then late in his career in a desperate attempt to steal some thunder from a successful Phillies club, it all goes out the window in spectacular fashion. I'm going to scream if I hear one more religious nut talk about the power of supernatural redemption. How about the power of personal responsibility? How about making good on what you fuck up here on Earth?

Ron Mexico is twisted scum. The punk has had about 6 chances in life that 99.999% of law-abiding citizens never get and now people whine that he deserves a "second" chance! Some things you do and you've checked out of society. Electrocuting, shooting and drowning animals in your care for shits and giggles checks you out of society. So does repeatedly lying about it to federal investigators. What a punk-ass pussy. Vick has not actually served his debt to society; this would involve years cleaning the shit out of a shelter or at the very least getting kneecapped. It would involve, perhaps, giving 98% of any money he makes from a football contract to a pitbull rehab program.

The NFL should be ashamed to be packaging this scumbag as family-friendly entertainment. Vick has a right to make a living, sure... and he can do that with an honest job that doesn't involve being a role model for kids.

I'm gonna trash my McNabb jersey too. I couldn't take his craven, patronizing excuse-making for Vick tonight. Maybe after McNabb choked and puked in the Super Bowl we should have put electrodes on his balls? That's the Vick approach to motivation and failure, after all. "There are worse crimes." Really? Not many worse things than torturing a mammal. Between Lynne Abraham's comments a couple of nights ago and the Eagles tonight, that's two Philadelphia institutions in 3 days stating that torture and brutality are acceptable.

And, hey, thanks Eagles for giving the city another issue that can go racial in 2 nanoseconds. We really needed that.

As far as "instructing the community" about dogfighting, or felonies in general? Yes, the community is being instructed. The lesson is: you'll get away with it. There's really nothing you can do that won't be forgiven if the rich can get richer from supporting you. Maybe we can pick up a kidfucker tight end from NAMBLA and hire a former concentration camp guard as defensive coordinator. Where's the line? Is there one?

America is not a place, nor is there a place in a world, where you get a "second chance" at even solid middle class careers when you commit a series of high-profile brutal felonies. Vick couldn't get a license now to teach kids, be a cop or fireman, or hold a license in any other professional field. He can't buy a gun. In many states he wouldn't be able to vote. But he gets to be a multi-millionaire for whom five million people are supposed to cheer? Barf.

And fuck the "Humane Society" for allowing themselves to provide cover for this shit. How much money was shoveled their way for this, and how much is going right to bloated executive salaries? They never get a penny from me again.

No good deed goes unpunished, no treachery goes unrewarded.

He sucks as a QB too. 7.4 yards per attempt? 75 lifetime rating? I'm almost that effective a passer.
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Ten Notes on a Summer's Day

Siiiigh. The post title is from a Crass album. I had that in the mid-'80s and sold it years ago. Too weird for me at the time, I'd probably like it now.

It's the hottest day of the year and I feel generally pretty well drained. Bar crowds have been light, business is slow in my other professional venture and I feel sluggish. It's not just the heat, it's the stupidity. Let's try and clear the air.

1) I am not good at small talk and have little interest in it. This blog reflects that and I make no apologies for that.

The quiz gig affords some autonomy beyond what you normally get in some office drone job. I take full advantage of that. I wouldn't be good at pretending to be some clown-monkey rent boy asking trivia questions and I wouldn't know where to begin trying to act that way. You won't find a whole lot of pure entertainment on the blog. At some point when things suck so hard for so many people, not mentioning it in non-political forums becomes advocating for the powers that be. I believe travelling Soviet performing artists were told to respond to uncomfy questions with a terse "I am not political."

When there's unjust or offensive behavior I have no problem calling people on that in a public forum. I think part of the few and far between blessings of growing up working class, particularly on the East Coast, is an intolerance for coded language and nuanced disapproval. The upside is that when I'm nice you know I really mean it.

I am fully aware that some people find the blog a bit much and there have been a few times that
different other forums have linked to this blog to make my earnest posts a figure of fun. There are almost never any links to this blog when I support someone or something. Interesting, that. Just as long as the links continue I'm pretty happy, maybe this will lead to someone being exposed to something new and coming to their own conclusions. We'll see who laughs last.

2) Are there any Obama voters left who don't feel like total suckers? If not, why not?

As I've said before, I voted for the honest, brilliant and capable Ralph Nader again in 2008 because it was painfully obvious that the Illinois junior senator was a Wall Street-owned warmongering jackass.

In less than 6 months Obama has made himself a war criminal, heavily committed the country to bankruptcy and put Goldman Sachs in charge of the nation's economy, transferred $13 trillion from hardworking taxpayers to criminal financial institutions, covered up and stiffled investigation into the Bush gang's crimes, sold labor downriver on card check (their only real request, a minimal one and by itself an indictment of union leadership), ignored the gay vote, plunged us into two unconstitutional wars in Asia, stood by a right wing coup in Honduras and war crimes in Gaza, expanded US military presence in South America, kicked single payer healthcare to the curb and managed to insult Special Olympians for dessert. Already his asshole Sec of State and fucknut VP are undercutting the administration's foreign policy statements and positioning themselves for the inevitable "it wasn't my fault" plausable deniability memoirs and future runs for the presidency.

It's like Nixon on meth, combined with a dollop of Herbert Hoover and a touch of Charlie Chaplin's Great Dictator. In half a year! YES WE CAN CAN CAN!

I'm not seeing too many Obama signs in people's windows anymore. There should be peace signs. There should be marches. There should be anger. There would be if there were a fair draft, but the typical Obamabot doesn't have a single person who served in the military in their iPhone. iPhoney, more like it... If so many innocent people weren't suffering, it'd be pretty fucking funny. Voting Democrat since 1980 or so is like getting KICK ME tattooed on your forehead. At least Republicans tell you they're going to stab you in the front, and always follow through. That much is at least perversely respectable. Another metaphor? The Democrat side of the gloryhole is the side with the rental kneepads. Republicans stand.

The Democratic Party leadership is Lucy Van Pelt holding the football and its voters are like Charlie Brown. Every two years we're told that this is the time that Lucy won't pull it away. Seriously, 60 senators, the presidency and a majority in the House, but single payer is off the table and $680,000,000,000 for war in three countries who can't attack us and that we never declared war against is approved without debate? Fuck that noise. Even banana slugs develop a primitive motor response memory when repeatedly shocked. Not so Democrats.

3) Would it have been too much trouble to play some song off of Abbey Road on the 40th anniversary of Abbey Road?

I'm a big Beatles fan as you can tell from the questions in many quizzes. I heard a lot of radio this weekend, and heard 6 or 7 Fab Four songs on the local oldies and classic rock stations. None of them were from Abbey Road. Three times a DJ played a Beatles song from a different album when noting the milestone, I think all three times the mention was made once the song ended. What th' heck?! How does this happen? I wonder if DJs on those stations do their own programming, or if those have also gone the way of Top 40 Central Monolithic Radio Corporation programming. For the record my favorite album by the band is Revolver, although anything from A Hard Day's Night on is pretty damn great.

4) It was also the 40th anniversary of the Manson murders. I am disturbed by the handling of the case.

There's been very interesting speculation that Manson and his followers had been expected to kill Black Panthers instead of rich famous white folk, and were therefore given unusual free reign by California authorities prior to the killings. It is true that there was a big "raid" on the ranch before the killings in which, bizarrely, a bunch of long hairs was let skate on multiple parole violations, drug and weapons charges. How often did that happen in 1969?! Much of this is detailed in Paul Krassner's autobiography, and he's written multiple columns on the matter which are easy enough to find on the web. He's interviewed some L.A. deputies who were assigned to aspects of the case and sound pretty credible.

Additionally I've read some interesting suggestion that the people bumped off during the Helter Skelter killings (also, I should note, not off of Abbey Road) knew the Manson group, er, um... socially (drugs'n'sex with some money involved) and that the killings weren't quite random. Maybe someone wasn't paying their coke bill? This makes a lot of sense to me, even disturbed people usually kill people they know. All food for thought.

Beyond all that, if the case weren't so high profile and if Manson weren't made out to be Satan himself, everyone involved in the case including Manson would have been paroled a long time ago. No one wants to be the person who lets Charles Manson walk. It's not justice when not wanting to do your job as a parole board official in a high profile case comes into play. It's something uglier, and it makes the justice system look worse than the Spahn Ranch. Unpopular as it is to say, I don't think Chuck in any way represents an actual threat to society in 2009. He's an old man who spent almost his entire life institutionalized, even before the murders. He should likely be in a halfway program, or a mental facility. He could be doing interviews on Springer here, a stint on The Surreal Life there. At the very least he should be Sean Hannity's new co-host. It's long past time Fox News went whole hog and hired someone with swastika on their forehead.

Who killed more people, Manson or Dick Cheney? Who is more dangerous? Who do we claim killed while sane? And who is free to walk the streets? Even Chuck never shot a friend in the face!

5) Single Payer Action

Sign up and get ready to rumble. Nothing short of congressional office occupation and large marches will win this one. HR 676, my friends, and nothing less. Health care is a human right and anyone who settles for less on behalf of We the People needs to be removed from office.

Americans shouldn't be third-class citizens. I want the deal you get in France, Norway and even destitute Cuba. In the 1940s Truman, an actual Democrat and not even a liberal, wanted health care for all Americans. 100% coverage, no exceptions. Congress beat him up on it. The Democrats haven't given it an honest try since.

Obamacare is a sham and a stillborn failure, mandating government gifts to the criminal private insurance industry and saving no money. We'd have to wait 5-10 years for millions to still be uninsured. Meanwhile Congress and the president have 100% government coverage that we pay for. Obama took $20 million from the industry in the election, and now comes our beatdown. The Democrats (not to mention Republicans) won't let single payer "a seat at the table." As a wise man once said, when they won't give you a seat at the table you need to knock the fucking legs out.

6) On elections

Hugo Chavez won re-election fair and square and so did Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. That's not an endorsement of policy, but plain fact as regards democratic choice. Not so much a real winner? George W. Bush in 2000. Even The Daily Show and Colbert get this backasswards. Who lives where now? Democra-what-y?

Here in Pennsylvania you can get 55,000 signatures to appear on a ballot and still get thrown off by corrupt partisan judges who fine you for trying to run.

7) Quizmasters: Beware the question buyer!

I had a fairly legit-sounding unsolicited offer a week ago via email from someone to submit 2,000 multiple choice trivia questions for what he claimed was an ESL instructional game via the web. It sounded to me given the spreadsheet format requested that this would be for a Megatouch-type game and I doubted the ESL bit, but if the check cleared who cares, right?

The proposal was from someone whose English suggested being a non-native speaker and who identified himself only as Jay. The email address was a gmail account and the name on the account was simply "a b."

Now, there are any number of times I've done legit business with people which began using fairly anonymous means of communication on the web, so I thought this was worth checking into if possibly a bit shady.

After some fairly reasonable negotiation via email over price and delivery time, as well as sending a few samples, I asked how and when I would get paid. That's when things got very shady. I was told I'd get a bank transfer or a check 15 days after emailing 2,000 questions, answers and 3 wrong answer suggestions for each question to said anonymous address.

My reply was that that was a good way to rip me off, and I counterproposed a system in which chunks of work would get exchanged for chunks of money, with alternating risk. I also asked where this guy was located and if in the US what the tax ID number for his business was.

At this point he claimed that he found someone else to do the work cheaper and my services wouldn't be needed.

My assumption is that "Jay" makes some Megatouch-like game outside the country and wanted to screw me over after I sent him a lot of free content. That and/or he was trying to pull some bank account scam. I told him of my suspicion and that I would warn others. You have been warned. Caveat quizor.

8) I wrote one of the very first Megatouch trivia games, if not the first

The incident in #7 reminded me of something that I should have mentioned on the blog years ago.

Back in 1987 or '88 while I was a high school student (yeah, I'm that old) I answered an ad in The Northeast Times ("Now featuring transitive verbs!") for someone to write a few hundred trivia questions for 25 cents each. This was back when an American quarter bought 17 cents worth of goods, so not bad money considering. I sent a letter with a few samples and got the job via phone. I banged out something like 300 questions on an IBM Selectric, which was old tech even then, and got a check in the mail about a week later. That was one of my first paid gigs, my first paid writing gig and probably makes me, for whatever it's worth, the first local quiz host to write a professional question.

I recall I was told that this would be for the Megatouch (which had to be explained to me) and the company was in Trevose, Pennsylvania, which you'll recall is storied in beloved folk songs as the "Gateway to Bensalem." I have no idea how many were used nor how long they were used. For all I know some of mine might still be in circulation. If you're answering something about Q*Bert or Walter Mondale, that might be my work...

9) Feel free to slap Lynne Abraham around a little, just don't leave any marks

Attempting to check in to a Phillies game that is actually scheduled for tomorrow night, I had the misfortune to hear some of Dom Giordano's show on Philadelphia's fascist radio station 1210 AM "The Big Talker." I had forgotten what an idiot that man is.

Ol' Dom has a boner for Lynne Abraham, the Philadelphia District Attorney who appears to be unfamilar with the Bill of Rights. She was a guest on the show, taking the Philadelphia Inquirer to task for an unusually strong editorial in which they correctly pointed out that the recent grand jury "investigation" which found Philadelphia Police not to have broken the law in beating suspects -on camera -while already subdued was the type of citizen attitude you'd expect in Nazi Germany.

Ms. Abraham, and I shit you not here, argued that the beatings were fine and dandy because videotape of the entire goddamn thing tells "only part of the narrative." We don't have, she explained, for example, sound of the beatings, which you know that Giordano would likely want, if for no other reason than to play in the background while he jerks off to the lingerie catalog in which he taped Frank Rizzo faces on the models.

More astounding is her claim that what didn't make the beatings criminal was that the suspects needed less than an hour of hospital treatment each. Apparently if the ER docs can patch you up in 59 minutes or less, it's not a crime in Philadelphia to fuck someone up. So says the DA.

I will keep this in mind should I be threatened in any way by Ms. Abraham in the course of doing my work. In case you find yourself in a situation in which Ms. Abraham appears to be threatening you, I suggest the following methods of subduing her while making a citizen's arrest:

- Have you considered the "pimp slap"? You want to go open hand here; she's an old lady and a fist would likely break bones or knock out teeth, and even with a DA's health plan that's no 59 minute patch job. We want bruising and not breaking here, which is, like, some ice and a $46 ibuprofen at any ER. How long could that take?

- She's a small woman and easy to wrestle to the floor. Once trussed, consider some cigarette burns on her back. The skin is thick there and infection is less likely, as are complications. Any competent hospital can git 'er done on a cigarette burn in well under an hour.

- "Sweep the leg, Johnny!"

- Whipping the soles of the feet was an old Spanish Inquistion torture method called bastinado. You know that this would be added torture for her as the damn thing is named in Spanish. That's again some ice and a $46 ibuprofen. Let's roll!

- One word: tazer.

Have you ever been so proud to be a Philadelphian?

10) Christine Flowers: one cowardly columnist (or "Speaking of Big Talkers...")

A few years ago I got into a bit of a row with Christine Flowers via the letters section of one of Philadelphia's wretched weeklies. The paper did a puff piece praising a man who turned out to be her brother, who was prosecuting Iraqis for war crimes in kangaroo courts set up by the US.

Now, these Iraqis were likely guilty of war crimes, but this was beside the point. My point was that after finding no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, after starting a war of aggression on false pretenses (itself a war crime according to the Geneva Conventions), and after admitting that Iraq had bugger all to do with 9/11, the Bush gang, having slaughtered largely innocent people by the thousand, suddenly became interested in human rights. Interested at least so far as would see their old business partner Saddam Hussein hung on the end of a rope before he could squeal to an international court about the bad old days when Donny Rumsfeld sold him weapons to kill Iranians, and about the apparent green light Bush Sr. gave him to invade Kuwait. My problem with the brother, who was an obvious right wing true believer, is that he was doing Bush's dirty work under the guise of humanitarian work.

I typed up a letter that was, to the paper's credit, printed largely intact. The following issue Flowers - who I learned later worked for that paper (!) - wrote in that I was a coward, idiot and worse, and this letter was printed. At this point we had some major journalistic integrity problems, with a puff news piece written about an employee's brother without identifying him as such, and a letter "to the editor" attacking me from someone who gets checks endorsed by said editor. How often must this and worse happen?

My next email went unprinted, but it was forwarded to Flowers herself, who went to work attacking me personally via email. Long story short, I presented some of my work history and credentials and seriously suggested a public debate with her on the issue. She claimed at first she was very much up for this, but the more detail I added about making that a reality the more she backed off and finally failed to respond at all. I still have the incriminating emails.

The overarching lesson is that right wingers are always ultimately a bunch of pussies. But you knew that. The silver lining is that they know it too.

Imagine my horror in looking up something on today to find out that this same silly harpy has been given a regular column to spread her filth in the Philadelphia Daily News! And a TV show on Channel 6 on Sunday mornings. No treachery is left unrewarded and no good deed goes unpunished. If you're out there, Christine, you silly Ann Coulter wannabe, the offer still stands. You, me and your public humiliation. Let's sell tickets and raise money for Iraqi kids' prostheses. You owe them that much. Then, like now, I am dead fucking serious. And this, I assume, is what causes the cold feet.

This would be my second of three bad run-ins with excuses for local "journalists." Tales for other days, but after nasty, arguably libelous actions against me in public forums the other two ended up with jobs as an assistant editor at The Nation and as John Dougherty's campaign manager. No treachery is left unrewarded, no good deed goes unpunished.
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